on December 2, 2006
In 1994, Hallowell and Ratey published Driven to Distraction to rave reviews. Now, Delivered from Distraction hits the bookstores to similar accolades. The message of hope and celebrating your strengths is the same, the tone of empowerment is the same. What's changed? The very latest in the world of attention differences, including current research in lifestyle changes, supplements, medication, and testing. Unlike D2D, Dr. Hallowell wrote the book, but the project was shared with Dr. Ratey. Like Driven to Distraction, the book is sprinkled with observations taken from the pages of Hallowell's practice. This book is comprehensive and renovated extensively from Driven to Distraction.
The ADD field has grown more complex and saturated with "Do this or do that," - "Try this, try that." In four parts, Delivered from Distraction provides a foundation from which to discuss the ADD phenomenon: (1) What's It Like to Have ADD? (2) Three Stories that Tell the Story (3) Making the Diagnosis of ADD (4) Mastering the Power and Avoiding the Pitfalls: The Treatment of ADD.
There's a lot to digest in Delivered. The chapters I found fascinating were "ADD Self-Assessment Quizzes for Adults," "An evil, an Illness, or a Kind of Mind?," "The qEEG and SPECT scan" "Conditions that Coexist with ADD," "Bipolar or ADD?" "Genetics," "Are We Training our Children to have ADD?" "The Treatment of ADD: What Works Best," and "ADD in Families." That's almost the whole book...
By far, I was fascinated by the chapter on Omega-3 Fatty Acids and its relationship to inflammation and ADD. Dr. Hallowell and Barry Sears of the Zone Diet have teamed up for a study at Hallowell's center in Sudbury, Massachusetts. Does Omega 3 help people with ADD? A few people I know who take Omega 3 have positive experience with this supplement, so I was excited to find that there is a study in the works.
Delivered from Distraction is far from ordinary and my interest grew from page to page. It's an easy read, either from front to back or specific chapters of your choice. Perfect for those with wandering, creative minds. And written with a humorous streak at times, too. Definitely not boring.
Final thoughts: This book is comprehensive and updated extensively from Driven to Distraction. Bottom line? Delivered From Distraction delivers.
on January 6, 2005
Delivered from Distraction is a fine read (stylistically) and an excellent guidebook for someone who is professionally and accurately diagnosed with ADD, or for those who would like to know what having ADD feels like and the types of behaviors people with ADD are prone to exhibit. This could be of particular benefit to mental health professionals who work with people with ADD. And for those who think ADD is a pseudo-disorder or a political ploy (I'm not one of them), maybe this book will change your mind. Although as Dr. Hallowell reminds us, if such skeptics could walk around for a day with the symptoms of ADD, most would quickly change their minds, and would most likely reverse their stance on the idea that it is some sort of social construct. I myself recall the first time I took Ritalin. I was so overwhelmed by the relief it brought me, I almost began to cry. Overall, if you have read Driven to Distraction by the same author "team" published in 1994, you'll find a lot that sounds familiar, but also much about some new treatments--some "official," some experimental. These include new brain imaging diagnostic procedures, some very strange but interesting stuff about cerebellum stimulation (you have to read it carefully to understand it! (Wait till you see some of the theory behind it and what you actually do during the treatments!!); more specific nutritional advice, new medications (like Strattera, which I have tried but didn't find too helpful--which I'll attribute to the "different strokes for different folks" philosophy, and some really nice touches when Dr. Hallowell relates personal anecdotes about himself and family members with ADD.
This book has much personal reflection on the subject, which adds a friendly touch since one can get a sense of the writers as people, not merely authorities. If you are familiar with the many books on ADD that suggest strategies for living, ordering one's life, conscious awareness of one's proclivities, this book covers some of the same ground but in a more literary and empathetic way (maybe because Dr. Hallowell was an English major in college). It also does so in a way that makes a lot of sense and seems derived from the authors' experience and motivated by a true desire to help others.
The authors also include some new and fascinating "case studies" of people who used their ADD state of mind to their advantage and became highly successful (see in particular the story of the founder of JetBlue). These "success stories" are not so much pep talks (I wouldn't want to run an airline even if I could), but explanations of how one can use one's "disorder." Nevertheless, one shouldn't judge a group by an individual--which can, unfortunately lead to guilt should a reader not be a 'success' in the way the authors define one. However, I found it quite brave that individuals in the public eye, so to speak, are not afraid to speak about their ADD. (I've read in another source, the story of the founder of Kinko's. Who would think someone with ADD would create a company worth 2.5 billion whose major appeal is precision, meeting deadlines, and coordination?!) This is not meant to imply that the authors have a pie in the sky philosophy of "aren't I lucky I have ADD since it enriches my life." The book stresses the fact that regardless of how well you develop strategies to "work with" your special cognitive style, there will be days when things just don't seem to be working--times when all the strategies in the world don't seem to help. But, as the book points out, the important thing is not to beat oneself up about it.
As someone who is a writer, I related to this propensity at self-criticism. I can be very focused one day; however, on another day, my mind will just be so scattered I can't even type a sentence fragment. Everyone has bad days, and given the proclivity of many ADD people to feel dissatisfied with their progress in life (i.e., goals, behaviors, personal identity, etc.,) one should not expect some magic cure-all for one's condition. The authors imply that there will be breakthroughs in treatment but don't expect any "magic bullet" any time soon(that's a horrible metaphor--sorry!). But with that in mind, the authors still maintain an upbeat, positive outlook, and provide a well-considered, thoughtful holistic program to find personal and interpersonal success in one's daily life and in one's journey through life.
I particularly liked the five-step method (graphically illustrated as a circle or flywheel) of developing a positive view and a positive lifestyle to find what the author calls "lasting joy." I found it so simple and impressive, in fact, I plan to copy the diagram and put it on my refrigerator. While I might not have used this somewht idealistic DEScription of the PREscription, it is a very common sense approach with profound possibilities of changing both the way an ADD person can successfully address the issues of everyday living and develop a philosophy of life that helps one develop a more secure "ground of being" (to paraphrase Paul Tillich). It has often been remarked that people with ADD are particularly sensitive, and this trait is apparent in the tone of the book. For example, one chapter begins, "Let me tell you an amazing story about my son Jack." The author then proceeds to tell this story, and it reveals the author's deep sensitivity and thoughtfulness, and his desire to share personal experience--in a sincere, heartfelt way without any arrogance or showing off. Here is an (incomplete) list of certain tenets:
find a compatable, understanding life partner (although why that advice should be different for people without ADD is beyond me);
find suitable work that appeals to the ADD personality (high stimulation, non-sendentary, one that requires creative, outside the box thinking, low levels of supervision, etc., (although again, shouldn't everyone try to find a job that suits his/her personality and traits?);
eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly (nothing like pumping up those neurotransmitters naturally, although again, this is good commonsense for just about everyone);
be aware of and develop strategies to combat one's proneness to addictive behaviors (alcohol, illicit drugs, gambling, sex..hmmm...wait a second, I have to reconsider that last item!);
use human or technological aids to help order your universe (a good accountant, a good daily planner, professional "coach" if you can afford one (I had about 4 sessions with one, and I think that was just about enough), electronic timers, etc.);
learn cognitive "tricks" to stop ADD-type impulsive actions (like showing your impatience, blurting out what's on your mind, etc). During a "business meeting," I once started doing an imitation of Marlon Brando as "The Godfather." I swear the display was completely appropriate in getting my point across but it sort of got lost on the rest of the people. Of great importance, consider that medication should almost always be considered as one part of the "happy with an ADD mind" equation--assuming all the other building blocks are in place;
follow a holistic approach to your situation, and get rid of one-track mind thinking regarding "a cure";
Check out some of the new research and methods that have cropped up in the past 10 years or so.
There's lots more but it certainly can't fit in here
If you haven't read other books on the subject, read this one, then maybe an ADD friendly organization book; see a competent psychiatrist who has expertise in treating ADD,and be assertive regarding what works, what doesn't work, and even the possibility that no medication will work: regardless, don't go the medication route as though it will provide the answer to your problems. When you find you've adapted a way of being that works for you, get on with your life, and monitor yourself every so often--but not obsessively. BECAUSE, if you do have ADD, and you are compulsive, you are likely to spend far too much time reading every book there is on the subject. So unless you plan to make a career of it, read this one, augment it with a good book on organizational skills designed for people with ADD, and get on with your life. And if you do have ADD, from one comrade to another, have the best life you can! And something that works for me, is "Don't have hope; have faith." It will keep you more motivated.
Finally, if confronted by someone who still claims that ADD is a hoax, conspiracy, attempt to disempower minority populations, a drug company invention to garner profits (and I've read about every anti-ADD argument in 'the book', my advice is to converse with them as follows: from as far away as possible.
This is one of those books that is both a gift... and very upsetting. - - When I was coming up, the terms ADD and ADHD were just becoming popular... only they were becoming so popular a lot of people were having trouble taking them seriously. - - It seemed like a faddy diagnosis and an excuse to medicate any kid who the television set couldn't babysit for adequately... At that time, I should note that it was clear that I had some kind of learning disability - -yet was a supposed "gifted underachiever" - - meaning I had a supposed "borderline genius" IQ but was too "lazy", "disorganized", "unfocused" even "bored" with school work.
(Back then the only treatments were "punishment", "tolerance" or counseling to deal with the "problem behaviors")
Ironically enough, just after I finished HS the SIMPSON'S became popular, and the term GIFTED UNDERACHIEVER also became a popular term... When I went to school however, bad grades meant STUPID... and there is no doubt, I carry some of the trauma and ridicule today (*Teachers just LOVE calling on ADD kids when they're not paying attention and singling them out.... supposedly to shame them into paying attention, but in reality, as an ADD'er I think it was just one trauma built on another!)
O.K. Years passed... and because of my inability to achieve in conventional settings I can't begin to describe all the problems, conflicts and restlessness I had in life... (and here is where I begin to get back on topic....)
HAVING READ THIS BOOK I actually read chapters of my own life story to such a point that had a been able to go back 28 years and been told "this is your future" - - I would have actually been able to read it and have SEEN my future (as well as perhaps get help.)
Anyway, recently I learned that I had ADHD, and you can have ADHD without being "hyper" - - and in looking deeper I realized that my life was a text book on ADD and it explained everything - - so here's my point:
Dr. Hallowell makes a lot of suggestions and leaves it open to the reader to choose... medication, therapy, coaching, 12 step program - - even yoga, medidation and nutritional supplements. Some may very well be quack therapies, others may be under-explored answers - - throw all bias aside fact is this: Had somebody given me this book 20 years ago... (long pause) I probably would have lost it (<-- ADD joke.... sorry.) But seriously... had I read this book a long time ago the anecdotes alone would have given me a lot of insight and helped circumvent a lot of pain.
In conclusion:- - No, the book does not offer an all in all 100% proven solves all single cure... but it offers OPTIONS... as well as anecdotes that not only demonstrate what its like to have ADD, but are cathartic to read as well... so I see this book as a gift... Looking back, I now realize I suffered because this wasn't common knowlege when I was a kid... on the other hand ADD is nothing new... there have been unfocused, disorganized yet creative people since the begining of time... now however, a syndrome that describes a condition that many people like me have is being formally studied and treatment options are being explored.
In conclusion, this book not only makes an insightful read, but may very well be a gift waiting to be given.
ORDER MULTIPLE COPIES ! ! !
Dr. Hallowell has given us a GIFT in this optimistic, realistic, encouraging book. Yes, there is a dark side to ADD (prison, alcoholism, unemployment...) but it's about time we heard about the strengths - intuition, creativity, the ability to connect with others, and the kind of risk-taking that changes lives for the better. Thank you, thank, thank you.
If you'd like the unabridged version, it's available from Audible.com, and the reader, Dan Cashman, is superb. The same abridged version read by Dr. Hallowell is also available.
on August 21, 2005
*1) Like many w/ possible ADD, I have "trouble reading", which includes getting myself to actually read even when interested, and extends to tremendous difficulty in FINISHING things/projects in life. This has been extraordinarily painful, b/c sometimes I can perform "at a very high level", even reading!.
##***2) For those who are unsure if they are ADD or if it even matters (& can't find out b/c they "can't read"), _DO_CHECK_OUT_THE_INTRODUCTION_. I CANNOT EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH. The vignette is spectacular.
2b) Yes, there exist: personal strength/responsibility, personal cultivation/willpower, values, discipline, etc. Many people seem to continually falter despite nonstop effort. However, in certain people, dramatic progress is achievable through a SOPHISTICATED managment of ADD. At least in some cases, self-flagellation is pointless if there exists a quality, evidence-based solution that intercepts the need for self-loathing.
3) For those who might have a complicated diagnosis (such as an adhd-&-Gently-bipolar mix), these authors are extraordinary clinicians. They even have quality analysis and evidence for the trade-off dangers and benefits of crossing-over treatments for these two!
4) For those w/ concerns of overdiagnosis & overmedication: see their acknowledgments of such, as well as facts pointing to underdiagnosis in some cases.
5) For those wanting to avoid medication, some ground is covered here.
6) For those who (perhaps with their doctor) think they might be, but find that they do not fit the "standard" ADD cariacature (including DSM criteria): This book may be a lifesaver.
on May 2, 2007
As someone new to the idea that I probably have ADD, this book gave me a lot of touchpoints from which I could discern that I probably have that "kind of mind". Yet there was precious little as far as definitive coping strategy is concerned.
They say in the book that a person with ADD needs lots of file cabinets, because they don't have "file cabinets" in their minds. That seems to be true of me. Yet the book is seems to be as disorderly as an ADD brain if you asked me. It rambles on and on with STORIES about ADD people and STORIES about ADD solutions. But there is little in the way of ORDERLY step by step "here's what you should do" stuff.
Hopefully, there's another book out there with more of what I'm looking for.
In all fairness, the book has an extensive resource guide to other books and even local doctors and support groups. It's just that I'm looking for quick orderly step by step answers, not a droning on and on and on discussion of problems and possibilities.
on March 2, 2006
I purchased this book after having the good fortune and privilege to read Dr. Hallowell's original guide to ADD. Like its predecessor, Delivered From Distraction has many eye-opening and helpful chapters on the various aspects of Attention Deficit Disorder.
Outside of the usual jaw-dropping price of a hardback copy, I have only one reservation to relay, but it is an important one. Given Dr. Hallowell's otherwise comprehensive approach to ADD, I'm wondering why the very critical subject of employment was largely omitted from this sequel.
Aside from humorous speculation as to whether Mssr. Hallowell's own ADD might have resulted in this omission, I feel it should be taken seriously. Anyone who struggles (and in this respect is otherwise gifted as a result of) with ANYTHING would naturally wish to read about how employment should be handled. To his credit, Dr. Hallowell does recite patient experiences in the work world, but does not go further in devoting at least a chapter, for instance, on work and ADD.
Some questions that come to mind are: What are the types of employment issues people with ADD face today? What types of jobs might be more suitable for one with ADD? What does one do when faced with a crisis at work that stems from ADD? What kind of advocacy exists for workers with ADD? Considering that Dr. Hallowell cites work and home life (the two biggies in anyone's life) as critical to the well-being of someone with ADD, I am thus both surprised and disappointed.
Dr. Hallowell is a pioneer in the field of ADD and a trusted friend and resource for all with ADD. I believe our lives would be enhanced greatly if he were to address in greater depth this very important issue. I look forward to hearing from him on this subject in the future.
on May 18, 2007
I think there are two ways to read this and Hallowell's other book. At first, each sentence felt like a kick in the gut to me. It felt so disabling; thinking of all the ways ADD can manifest itself and become an obstacle, how it had in my past and how it could in my future. But I think I was reading it with too much negativity. It's very easy to use these examples as a crutch, but in Delivered, Hallowell is framing his argument to be enlightening, not depressing.
Last night I started tearing up at some lines. It's so unifying, to know other people think this way, and to hear him describe it NOT as a disease or a dysfunction, just a difference in the way the brain processes information and sensations. ADDers are prone to negativity, which breeds more negativity, and so on. If you instead read this book with a positive approach, it's articulation, not punches in the gut.
To Hallowell, the only "disorder" present is that you can't bracket out the things that (supposedly) don't matter. To someone with ADD, everything matters, all stimuli is significant, all windows should be looked out, all ideas blurted out loud, all daydreams explored by the imagination. Sure this gets in the way of productivity, but I don't know if being that sensitive to input and engaged with life can really be described as a disorder.
I really believe this book will help people harness all their chaos and use it - whether it's with list-making and highlighters, the help of a good friend, planners, therapy, medication, creative outlets, whatever. There will still be chaos, but chaos with reason. Like really great guitar solos.
"We may make messes wherever we go, but with the right help, those messes can be turned into realms of reason and art." - Edward M. Hallowell.
on May 26, 2009
I enjoyed reading a lot of this - it helped me come to grips with my ADHD diagnosis. Reading the specificity of the disorder's characteristics and how well they matched up with me was very shocking. He nailed certain behaviors to the point where I was laughing out loud.
But when he gets into the treatment section he starts pushing antioxidant products and other expensive dietary supplements but acknowledges that there isn't evidence that they necessarily work for ADHD. And with regard to antioxidants, several studies show that antioxidants lose their properties in pill form. So it's a little irksome when Hallowell names specific brand names. He also lists the myriad of supplements he takes daily and basically says, "We still don't know if these help, but what's the harm?"
Well, first of all, the cost of daily spirulina, fish oil, grape seed oil and antioxidant supplements adds up. The Omega-3 supplement he mentions at the dosage he recommends would cost you over $1,000/year. More importantly, I'm pretty sure that the omega-3 fatty acids are the only supplement he cites that has shown to have a positive effect on ADHD. It's irresponsible to encourage people to take treatments that don't have clinically proven benefits.
Aside from that and some touchy feely mentions of spirituality, it's a pretty good read (I had to do the audiobook) with some inspiring individual stories. It's a valuable book for anyone interested in the subject, but read it with a grain of salt.
on January 7, 2005
Quite a few people have told me that Dr. Hallowell's books on ADD have changed, and in some cases, saved their lives. With his latest book on the topic, I am sure that many more lives will be saved -- both literally and figuratively.
Delivered from Distraction, which presents new and valuable information not contained in Dr. Hallowell's earlier books on the topic, shows why "attention deficit disorder" needn't be a deficit or a disorder. In fact, many "ADD traits" can, if understood, managed, and nurtured, be powerful positive forces in an individual's life.
While the book presents recent research in the field as well as information on the latest medications, it is especially strong in showing readers how to minimize the negative, and strengthen the positive aspects of ADD without medication. Dr. Hallowell's intelligent and practical self-treatment regimes, along with the moving profiles of people who have triumphed despite -- and perhaps because of -- their ADD, made me almost wish I had it. And then I realized that Dr. Hallowell's advice to people with ADD is great advice for ANYONE who wishes to lead a healthy, creative, and fulfilling life -- albeit with a little more organization and a little less procrastination.